Every Tuesday can be made brighter with the news that there are two new Giant Pandas in the world. That’s the announcement from the Atlanta Zoo where officials have confirmed that Lun Lun the Panda has given birth to a set of Panda twins.
Although it’s not uncommon for Pandas to have Twins, it was still unexpected. Lun Lun went into labor on Monday and had the two hairless cubs that you see on the right at 6:21 p.m. and 6:23 p.m. EDT,. These are the first giant panda cubs to be born in the United States in 2013, according to the Zoo Atlanta officials.
“We had no reason to expect twins, although we had not ruled them out,” said Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, adding that pandas regularly give birth to twins. “On the few ultrasound images that Mom actually cooperated with, we only saw one developing fetus.”
Lun Lun has given birth to three cubs in the Atlanta Zoo but this marks the first time that Twin cubs have been born at that location. Of course it should be noted that Giant pandas are still an endangered species, with only about 1,600 living in the wild, and around 300 are alive in captivity. The sex of the Giant Panda twins were not known at this time.
Lun Lun herself weighs more than 200 pounds, though the cubs are only a few inches long. One of the hardest parts of breeding Pandas in captivity, is that although they frequently have Twins, Panda mothers will only take care of one panda cub after a certain point, the other usually dies. Scientist have found a way around this, by switching the panda cubs (one at a time) so the mother is tricked into taking care of both cubs.
Lawson told NBC, “It’s physically difficult for the mother panda to manipulate more than one cub,” Lawson said adding that the cubs will receive their names from China.
photo Zoo Atlanta via Reuters